1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, SoCS, Special Occasions

Mothers Are Saviours, #SoCS

Safe to say: Happy Birthday Mom!

YPCReMz.jpg

The idea came from a cousin when I couldn’t think of anything good enough on my own.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS

How perfectly coincidental that the big 60 falls on a stream of consciousness day.

So many people care and wanted to be included in my present to my mom, and I am not done yet.

Whether birthday card greeting or nostalgia and memory, it isn’t hard to find positive things to say about her. The things flow from her, through her, if you’ve even just barely met her. I didn’t think the challenge I was putting out there was so hard.

Some people doubt their ability to use their words for self expression and toward another. They feel my expectation, perhaps, but I only wanted them to feel safe enough in saying whatever came to mind when they thought of my mom and the woman they all know and love.

Even those closest to her might have struggled, but that is just because the feelings are a little too close for comfort and, in having to put into words just what she means to them, it may have felt uncomfortable in the moment. I thought it, thought her, worth the immediate feelings of uncertainty as one sat down to write.

I wanted her to know how safe she made me feel, as her daughter, and how she has saved me, dozens and hundreds of times, from my biggest fears and from myself and the world at large.

Anyone can and soon does feel safe in talking to her, in opening up to her. That’s her gift to the rest of us who have the privilege of her in our world.

All the times I felt so sick, so much pain, and like nobody believed it, she saved me and made me feel safe again..

She was surprised by her gift and more is being added, even just today in fact.

A mother should want to do it, protect their children/grandchildren, and she does. My mother for the save.

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

The Things I’ve Seen and Heard, #TGIF #FTSF #BluSkyFriday

The little boy goes from family member to family member, (parent to sibling), but none are cooperating with his request to speak into the tape recorder. This is his ritual, as a way to capture memories for the record, through sound. He can’t see vacation photos in an album. Soon his sister won’t either.

This family is used to their littlest and his odd requests. Well, they might appear odd to some, but it’s just annoying, as the family is finished exploring tourist attractions for now and only wishes to veg in the hotel room. They don’t want to be interviewed, asked what they are doing, but the boy persists.

My brother has tapes and tapes of this sort, from all the years and all the trips we took, and my parents loved to take us on trips.

Now, this morning my cough is nearly gone, but still I’m recovering and it’s probably good my violin lesson did not happen, though I hope I will soon learn second line of “Twinkle Twinkle” before I forget the first.

So, the things I see this morning consist of nostalgia and past family memories, all caught on tape, now digitalized for future listening.

My brother and I don’t see. We hear.

🙂

Okay, so I make a little fun with the wording of this week’s sentence, only in that I don’t normally like to pick apart the word “see” as a term that the blind can not really use. I “use” it all the time actually, with no further thought.

I see/hear the fun we used to have as children, together. My brother and I proceed to laugh our asses off, for what feels like hours, while we wait for the coffee that will not make itself.

On the first day of the final year of my brother’s twenties we remember when he was eight and I was eleven. We listen to the tour of the hotel room he did, to understand his world, so he wouldn’t forget a single moment of the time we spent as a family on that summer getaway.

This week’s “The things I’ve seen this morning…” prompt is brought to you by:

https://kimbawhite.wordpress.com/

And…as always:

http://www.findingninee.com/

Standard
1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Spotlight Sunday

Music Makes Me Happy, #1000Speak #InternationalDayOfHappiness

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”
–Oscar Wilde

“Aw, Dobby’s sad,” my three-year-old nephew says about my dog, sounding sad too.

I am constantly in awe at how very small children sense sadness in other people and in animals. They sense it, feel it, and acknowledge it, hoping the big people in their immediate vicinity will recognize it and make it all better, like their parents do for them.

Sadness is the opposite of happiness?

I guess, but there are many shades of both.

On this,

International Day of Happiness,

I wonder if I am happy, if the world is all that happy either.

Standard of living, poverty, oppression all play a role, but I believe there are those who have very little (in material possessions) yet are happier than some who have more.

Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado

Of course material possessions don’t automatically guarantee happiness. This got me thinking on what does make people happy, all across the world, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s one universal thing, other than love I’d think, and that one thing is: music.

This week I did what I never thought I could. I wrote lyrics for a song. I know my singing talents are few at best, but I know I can write, can convey a feeling through words.

Soon after I’d written and worked with my musician brother to set them to the song he’d written, he and a singer recorded it. I’ve heard a rough draft and, after the shock I felt at hearing my words laid out through song, I felt pride and happiness.

Music comes in so many forms and it evokes so many, varied, unique yet universally applicable feelings and emotions. It connects us all around the world. It brings people together. How can any of that not produce happiness?

So, as I’d seen recently on Facebook that people were listing the albums that most affected them, I thought I’d try it. Maybe someone will discover some new music that makes them happy or will be recalled to a time, of happiness, or something else, but at least we’re feeling something. I believe that is important to realizing we’re all human, fallible, deserving of love.

(These are all listed, not in the order of their original release, but in the order of which I feel happiest upon hearing them.)

🙂

First, Jann Arden even has an entire album she’s dedicated to the feeling of the day, as the album is called “Happy”, but here are ten other albums that don’t need to say it, although sometimes they do, to make me happy.

***

No Need To Argue – The Cranberries

“Unhappiness where’s when I was young, and we didn’t give a damn

‘cause we were raised, to see life as fun and take it if we can.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Need_to_Argue

I discovered this Irish group at a time when I was very confused and scared. This album in particular brought me peace from the storm that was raging in my world. Peace was much needed. Listening to this one, still to this day, makes me happy.

Heart of Stone – Cher

“Memories haunt you, feelings you won’t forget
Learn to live a lesson in love, walk away without regret.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Stone_(Cher_album)

Nostalgia is not a big enough word for what I feel about this Cher album. I listen and I am immediately brought back to a simpler time, to happy childhood days.

Vespertine – Bjork

“I have a recurrent dream
Every time I lose my voice
I swallow little glowing lights
My mother and son baked for me”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespertine

This album is a favourite of my youth. The lyrics are wonderfully weird and I feel wistful wild happiness when I listen.

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

“I’m broke but I’m happy. I’m poor but I’m kind. I’m short but I’m healthy. Yeah!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagged_Little_Pill

I was still a little girl when this hit album was released, but it made me happy, even if I didn’t understand a lot of the things she sang about at that time. It got me through a really hard time and it helped me feel happy, sad, angry, scared. It taught me a lot about self expression.

Halcyon – Ellie Goulding

In March 1011, when asked about the album’s musical direction in an interview with gossip website Dean Piper’s World, Goulding stated, “It’s started to sound very dark and very weird. This album is going to be even more emotional (…) I wanted to make it so there is hope. I want to make an effect whether it’s happy or sad.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halcyon_(album)

Without sadness I don’t think happiness would mean nearly as much as it does. I feel both emotions, in quick secession when I’m listening to it.

Songs from the Big Chair – Tears for Fears

“And I believe that if you’re bristling while you hear this song
I could be wrong or have I hit a nerve?”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songs_from_the_Big_Chair

More nostalgia with this one. Simply a kick-ass bunch of songs. It is from my favourite decade of music, released almost exactly one year after I was born, and I consider to be a gift my father gave me. Well, my father or my big brother, but which one doesn’t really matter because they have both made me who I am. They both have done so much that has made me happy.

Surfacing – Sarah McLachlan

“Make me a witness. Take me out, out of darkness, out of doubt.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfacing_(album)

Being a teenager is hard. This album brought me happiness through its powerful lyrics. It’s imprinted on my mind and heart.

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen

Don’t you just love the title of this one? Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode. Know which one I mean?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Not_Me,_It%27s_You

Jagged Little Pill was written when I was still a little girl, but I discovered this album when I was finally grown. It sort of became my outcry on so much I saw as I was now a grown woman myself. It makes me happy to hear it and to know I can do this. I can get past so much. I can handle whatever life throws my way.

Left of the Middle – Natalie Imbruglia

“‘cause intuition tells me that I’m doin’ fine
Intuition tells me when to draw the line
Should have turned left
Should have turned right
But I ended up here
Bang in the middle of real life”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_of_the_Middle

This one reminds me of my first taste of independence. I loved it then, it made me happy, and I will love it always.

Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

“Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop. It’ll soon be here. It’ll be here, better than before. Yesterday’s gone. Yesterday’s gone.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumours_(album)

Before my time, again, but I like it for the classic record it is. It makes me happy to listen to its snappy beats and its catchy melodies.

***

There you are. There were the ten albums that make my list, music to make me happy.

I am listening to music as I write this post. It’s increasing my level of happiness. I do it often.

Now, I realize this, of course isn’t always possible. Since Bobby McFerrin told us to simply “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in the eighties, it sounded like a good solution to all of our problems. Unfortunately, not all that practical all the time, but I hope there exists, somewhere out there, a piece of music…or an entire album for that matter, that makes you happy.

And so I hope everyone can find a little piece of their own brand of happiness, on this day set aside for that very thing, if not all the days of the year.

I have no doubt there is a deep connection between happiness and compassion. When we are happy we want to spread it around, (like the sharing of a song), which is compassion in my mind.

I am happy also that I can take part in yet another

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

Standard
Blogging, Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, TToT, Writing

TToT: My Week of Zen

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
–Lewis Carroll

10thankful-banner-2015-08-8-14-03.jpg

Politics is on everybody’s minds lately. There is enough going on, as I have to listen to nothing but, here in Canada, but at least it’s only for the next two months. It’s the US that will be going on about this insane popularity contest, masquerading as something deeper, that might actually change our collective futures, for more than a year still to come.

I probably sound very negative about it all. This is precisely why I am focusing on the things that bring me to a place of zen with this week’s:

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL.

Pardon me if I might seem like I’ve recycled a few thankfuls today, from weeks gone by, but I have put a new spin on the ones I’ve already used.

Not for cool summer weather or the central air I love so much, but for the fact that one leads to not needing the other. I am glad, where others may not agree, at the cooler temperatures. When I need it, I am thankful for AC. This first thankful for the week is now awarded to the lack of humidity, requiring the use of AC, which saves me on the cost, keeping my electric bills lower.

For summer vacations and road trips, may they be a relaxing week at the cottage or a spontaneous, east coast adventure.

I am just happy my brothers both are getting the chance to enjoy themselves this week, to make lasting memories with family and friend respectably.

I hope my brother has a blast out east and that his time, by the ocean, might bring some peace and tranquility and a bit of zen for himself.

They both work hard and deserve the chance to have a bit of fun.

For the opportunity, the need, and the openness to try something new now and again.

Habitual Chocolate on Facebook

I was over-the-moon when I first heard about a brand new chocolate store in my town. I hoped for a

Lindt Chocolate Canada on Facebook

or a

Rheo Thompson,

but was a bit surprised at what I got instead.

Okay, so it ended up not being my sort of thing. Sure, the chocolate is of the more healthy variety, but really, who wants that?

Well, we were given free samples and told that many people do, but frankly, I don’t see the point.

Dark chocolate is good for you. It is actually beneficial to have a few squares of a chocolate bar, if it is bitter and with no trace of sugary sweetness.

I say it, loud and clear, right there in my About Me page on this very blog. Chocolate, to me, is a delicious anti depressant. It instantly boosts my mood and only milk chocolate will do.

Occasionally, as with this particular trip, a certain kind of dark chocolate, when mixed with something like mint and a good cup of coffee, this can hold its own pleasures. I am glad I went and gave it a shot. The latte was delightful and my nephew found a toy he liked, even if he’d much rather have played with the in-house chocolate-making machinery instead.

You have to make it a “habit” to keep an open mind and experience new things. That’s what I try to do, as often as possible.

For surprise peas.

🙂

Yes, these bring me just as much pleasure and enjoyment as chocolate does.

I believe I’ve mentioned them in this forum before, but I am doing it again.

This time they were a pleasant surprise, as I was always used to early July being the only time, a very short window, when I would get fresh peas to pod. My mom’s garden only had them available for a few weeks and that was it for the year.

With the discovery of my favourite peas at a local market, I was surprised to learn that I have been granted an extension.

They are not only delicious, but they provide a zen-like feeling to me, as the act of podding them offers me a very specific kind of nostalgia and a flash back to another time, and my deceased grandparents. They always picked peas and knew how much I loved them and would always save me a grocery bag full.

For living in Canada.

Sure, our political debates may not have the same sort of hype as our neighbours to the south, but at least I can be grateful for one thing:

No Donald Trump trying to run my country.

He’s a bully, who has probably never admitted he was wrong about anything in his entire life. He’s a spoiled, entitled petulant child, which actually insults all the children I know.

Of course, if he were to become the leader of the United States, that would have some effect on all other countries, including my own. I don’t know what the serious odds are that he could win, but stranger things have happened.

Yes, I can’t believe I am conceding that point, but who would have ever imagined the Terminator would become Governor of California.

🙂

I admit to not watching the debates. I saw things about both sets, but just in the news the next day. Politics is not my thing. So, in lieu of me being the one to run my own country or the world (I know…what a shame), I must learn what I can about those who will have the job and to stay positive.

For smart, witty, and engaging entertainment from The Daily Show’s John Stewart.

He also brought us more talent from the likes of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.

We will have John’s monologues, on YouTube, for years to come:

BULLSHIT IS EVERYWHERE

It was the news, but from a different perspective. It wasn’t dry and stuffy. It was entertaining, but you never doubted the show did its homework.

I could feel Stewart’s passion and his compassion, in every satirical word he spoke on that show.

For the encouragement I receive from other female writers and bloggers, even if they don’t realize it:

The Key to Publishing Personal Essays – Alana Saltz

and

Announcing new FAQs page: one question, sort of answered

from Obscure CanLit Mama, Carrie Snyder.

These ladies have things I want for myself and they make it look easy, but as I go ahead and read more about them, I learn this is not the case. That helps me deal with the dreaded writer’s jealousy, of which I am certainly not immune, but more than that I know what it’s like to truly admire their work and, for that matter, their hard work.

For the shift forward in accessibility this week, with the Pan Am Games at an end and the start of the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, this was the news I was thrilled to hear:

CN Tower Launches Accessible Wheelchair EdgeWalk Experience with Paralympian Rick Hansen and TORONTO2015 Games on August 7, 2015, TORONTO2015 Parapan Am Games Opening Day

I know CN Tower has had their safety guidelines for the EdgeWalk, but I wasn’t about to accept that I could not walk up there, out around the edge of the CN Tower last year:

Manifesto: Walking on the Edge

I will never forget my walk on the edge of a tower in Toronto and I want that same experience for everyone.

For the pride and the hope.

Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays is doing well again. Will it last?

Well, currently they are on a seven or eight game winning streak and are beating the popular New York Yankees.

The memory of the two consecutive World Series wins (92-93) gives Toronto something to strive to find again, the glory of the championship.

For the presence, of two very special boys, these past few years.

Right now, this week, I am right smack dab in the middle of two birthdays for two amazing boys in my life.

I always think of the Elton John song “Your Song”, when I think of the blessings my niece and nephews are to me, but it’s the Ellie Goulding cover that I go to when it comes to my favourite lyric:

“I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”

They are two fun, sweet, and smart kids and I am proud to be their Auntie Kerry.

And so with July firmly behind, I am looking ahead into the rest of August. I have a feeling the stakes are going to become higher in the next few weeks, with what is meant to be and I am glad I have these things to be thankful for, whatever that might look like.

So there you have it: my week of zen.

Standard
History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, RIP, Spotlight Saturday

Love and Despair

Canada has lost two icons, in the last two weeks. This is my tribute to them both: Lois and Jonathan.

Lois Lilienstein, dies at age 78

Sharon, Lois, and Bram were a part of my childhood.

Sure, I wasn’t a huge fan of the giant, silent elephant, but I did watch the three performers and I liked their songs.

Somewhere in between Polka Dot Door and Today’s Special.

The Elephant Show was full of skits and songs and it was always there, seemingly just there, in the background of my early years.

It was comforting like home.

The theme song is unforgettable for anyone who has ever heard it.

“Love you in the morning and in the afternoon. Love you in the evening and underneath the moon.”

The folky sounding music they sang together made them some of the best children’s performers around. They volunteered for certain children’s events, such as appearing where I saw them, met them, and had my photo taken with them.

I was a teenager by this time, but my brother and I had both received kidney transplants at Sick Children’s Hospital in downtown Toronto.

We were at a celebratory event, one afternoon, in the hospital’s main atrium. We posed with Sharon, Lois, and Bram by the cake.

Then, as I grew, I’d long since outgrown kid’s shows and soon what became important to me was what made me proud to be Canadian, with the development of my love for my country’s literary history.

I was shocked, last week, when I first read, in my news feed for Facebook…
Jonathan Crombie, dies at age 48

This was the last thing I was expecting.

There’s always a certain obvious morbidity in my mind, as one celebrity dies and I already start thinking, I wonder who the next one will be to pass away.

Jonathan Crombie was only forty-eight and died, a few days before the official announcement, from a brain hemorrhage.

Right away I felt a sickening feeling inside.

He was Gilbert Blythe. He “was” the role. He WAS that character.

I knew the PBS mini series before I really read the books. It all came to life for me, on screen, with the descriptive video I received in the mail in the late nineties.

Most girls had their prince charming, Disney prince of their choice. I had Gil. He was what an ideal male would be. He became the ideal for me.

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe always reminded me of my grandparents, right from the first time I became truly aware of their love story.

I never thought I would be writing about why this character means to me what he does, not for this reason. I had assumed it would come up eventually, here or somewhere else, but that I would talk about the significance of Anne and Gilbert or Gil himself, as an upbeat writing on my favourite literature.

I didn’t think, couldn’t predict I would be writing about what Jonathan’s role as Gil meant to me, not as a tribute to the life lived by the man behind the beloved Canadian literary character, at the time of his premature death.

But here we are.

I don’t know exactly what Jonathan felt about his time playing Gilbert. I would assume he realized what that role meant to people like me. I read he would often answer to “Gil”, but whether or not this is true I can not say.

I do know he played the role of Gilbert for all three movies. He started as a fairly young guy in the eighties.

He was the son of David Crombie, Mayor of Toronto, long before Ford would make the position famous for so many other things.

Jonathan performed on the stage, Shakespearean roles, at the Stratford Festival Theatre.

I wish I could have seen him in that role, as a bit of a variation from Montgomery’s character. Just a small variation of course.

Jonathan would return, years after his original debut as Gil, when the third Anne film was made, at the start of this new century.

It was a bit of a shock, to me in that moment, when I first saw him again. He was older, obviously, his voice having changed a fair bit from what I’d known it to sound like.

He pulled off a whole new, more serious role this time, going off to perform medical officer duty in a retelling, of sorts, of a story from World War I and I was newly impressed by where he would take that character.

It was a bit of a stretch from Montgomery’s original writing, but I wouldn’t read more of the books until several years later.

Of course, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for L.M.’s brilliant creation of the great love story of Gilbert and Anne, but Jonathan brought the character to life in ways I will never forget.

It was the way Crombie pulled off the deep and unwavering devotion and dedication to Anne and his pure love for her. I envied it. I only dreamt that anyone, in my real life, could or would ever love me like that.

Even as an old-fashioned story, theirs is a fictional love story that didn’t have lots of drama and back-and-forth, at least not for him. He played always his part, Gilbert Blythe, the cool, calm, and collected gentleman. The chivalrous doctor that once was a love-sick schoolboy.

Nothing, betrayed in that character, seemed to react. They took a sombre period in Canada’s history, now one hundred years ago, and they portrayed it, both Jonathan and Megan, and the rest of the cast, with grace and dignity, feeling and heart.

The tragic romance of doing the hard thing, the spectre of having to be separated, all coming alive from the pages of any history book I’ve ever read. A fictional story that I could, so easily, picture in real life.

Of course, I knew it to be a work of fiction, but Jonathan made me feel it in every line he spoke as Gilbert.

I wanted to include my favourite moment from his performance in Anne: The Continuing Story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr20pRzTiTc

I will return to this story, again and again, to always see him in this greatest of great roles.

Watching the above clip of their reunion always did bring tears to my eyes, caused the all-too familiar butterflies in my stomach when I immediately went to watch on hearing the sad news, caused my heart to race like always, and will forevermore stir a deep feeling of nostalgia that can hardly be explained through words.

It is why I believe in the art of a fictional performance, when in spite of all the silliness of what acting often is, sometimes an actor gets it right. Sometimes it isn’t silly or frivolous. It means something.

And so I dare to be so bold as to use a line from Montgomery’s books and from the films themselves, not in an attempt to be over-dramatic for the sake of it.

Anne Shirley said it first. I say it now.

I didn’t know him. I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I would have liked to tell him all this, if I had.

“In the depths of despair.”

His passing has caused a strange empty feeling in me since I heard he was gone for real.

From what I read, his organs were donated. This only makes me love him even more.

How many people get to mean the things he’s meant to people like me and to give others a second chance at life through the sudden end of his own?

RIP Jonathan, Gil.

Standard